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Lightning strikes twice, Giants blow second straight ninth-inning lead and lose

A multiple-run lead heading into the ninth inning. Sound familiar?

The San Francisco Giants just cannot close out the Oakland Athletics, as a Mark Canha three-run home run in the ninth Saturday night capped a second straight comeback win for Oakland and sealed a 7-6 victory.

A solid pitching performance from Kevin Gausman (ND, 5-2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 11 K), and two big extra base-hits from Mike Yastrzemski (1-for-3, 3B, 2 RBI) and Darin Ruf (1-for-3, HR, 3 RBI) was undone by yet another ninth-inning meltdown.

Friday night was a tough one for the Giants. Leading 7-2 entering the ninth inning, the A’s exploded for five runs to tie the game after a costly error that would have ended the game for the Giants. More of the same Saturday night.

Johnny Cueto pitched great Friday night as the Giants were looking for more starting pitcher dominance from Gausman Saturday, who squared off against A’s lefty Sean Manaea.

Gausman cruised through the first inning, allowing just a single to Tony Kemp. The Giants offense followed with a quiet bottom of the first.

The A’s jumped out ahead in the top of the third inning. Vimael Machin singled to left to lead off the inning. Two batters later, Marcus Semien homered to center, giving the A’s a 2-0 lead.

Manaea shut down the Giants through three innings. In the bottom of the fourth, however, Austin Slater walked, and Donovan Solano singled to put runners on first and second with nobody out.

Mike Yastrzemski came through, with a triple into right field. Both Slater and Solano scored, as did Yastrzemski on a throwing error by the A’s. The Giants jumped out ahead 3-2.

Gausman, despite a high pitch count, was dealing Saturday evening. He finished the fifth inning with 89 pitches but 10 strikeouts while allowing just two runs.

Matt Olson homered to straightaway center to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning. Gausman recorded two outs in the sixth, including his 11th strikeout before he departed.

Gausman discussed his performance today, and his 100+ pitch count:

“I felt good, I felt like my velocity carried throughout my outing. That’s the goal, is to get to 100 pitches, glad that I got to that. Obviously I wish I would have been a bit more efficient and been able to get us through six [innings], and not have to bring in Wandy [Peralta] at that point.”

Giants manager Gabe Kapler said he has been pleased with the starting pitching performances of late.

Evan Longoria led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a double to left. Wilmer Flores followed with a single to right-center. Runners on first and third with nobody out.

Hunter Pence went down swinging for the first out. Darin Ruf followed with his first home run of the season, a three-run shot to left field. The Giants now led 6-3.

Mark Canha doubled to lead off the top of the eighth inning against Tony Watson, who retired the next three batters, stranding Canha.

Solano reached on an error in the bottom of the eighth. Yastrzemski followed with a walk. Runners at first and second, nobody out. Evan Longoria grounded into a double play, advancing Solano to third.

Brandon Belt struck out to end the inning. Giants went into the ninth with a three-run lead.

Trevor Gott came in for the save. A solo home run from Sean Murphy to lead off the inning cut the Giants lead to 6-4. Two batters later, Tony Kemp doubled. With two outs in the inning, Olson walked, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate.

Déjà vu…

Canha launches a three-run home run into the left field bleachers. The A’s did it again, and led 7-6 after yet another ninth inning meltdown from the Giants.

Kapler discussed what he and the coaching staff has seen from their struggling closer over the past couple of days:

“Mostly a lack of command and control. The balls that have been hit very well have been good pitches to hit, because of the location of the pitches, and the lack of control in general. The hit-by-pitch yesterday, and today he had some sprays as well.”

Two blown saves in as many nights, is something wrong with Trevor Gott? The Giants closer said he is not fazed:

“I wouldn’t say so. I’ve gotten into some deep counts, and my location was a little off, but i felt good. They capitalized when they needed to.”

The Giants needed some ninth inning magic of their own.

Well, that didn’t happen. The Giants went down quietly into the night, their second consecutive blown save in games where they should have won. Sunday’s game should have been for a chance to sweep, instead, they will look to avoid being swept.

Kapler discussed how difficult the past couple of games have been, and how the team will move forward:

“It’s very difficult to deal with the last couple of losses. It’s part of baseball, but at the same time I think its appropriate to feel the sting of them, and acknowledge the sting of them. Beyond that, I know we have better baseball in us. I really believe in this team to play better baseball than we’ve been playing. I believe in the group. For me, it’s knowing that there is a better brand in there, and constantly striving for ways to bring it out.”

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